Friday, July 24, 2015

Nicole Civita Accepts Teaching Position at Sterling College, Continues Affiliation with LL.M. Program

Nicole Civita
Nicole Civita
We are pleased to congratulate our alumna, colleague, and friend, Nicole Civita, for her appointment to the faculty at Sterling College in Vermont.  Nicole will teach in their Sustainable Food Systems curriculum and serve as the Assistant Director of the Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems.

With the school motto of "Working Hands. Working Minds," Sterling College was one of the first U.S. colleges to link a liberal arts education with ecology, outdoor education, and sustainable agriculture. The new Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems furthers this mission.  Nicole's longstanding commitment to the development of a more sustainable food system, combined with her demonstrated academic excellence make her a natural fit for this new position.

Nicole came to the LL.M. Program in August 2012, moving with her family from Los Angeles where she practiced law as an Associate Attorney with Hogan Lovells. Although her practice had been based on employment law, her passion was food law, and our Program served as a critical transition for her.

Following completion of the LL.M. Program, we asked Nicole to stay with us as a Visiting Assistant Professor to help with the launch of our new distance track for the LL.M. Program and the associated expansion of our curriculum. In that role, she helped to design distance courses throughout our curriculum, working closely with our colleagues at the UA Global Campus.  And, she developed and taught our LL.M. courses in Urban Agriculture and Food Justice Law & Policy.  She also took over the leadership of our Food Recovery Project, publishing the widely circulated article, Food Recovery: A Legal Guide, and speaking all over the country at food waste and food recovery conferences.

We are delighted to announce that Nicole will remain connected to our Program as an Affiliated Professor. In that role, she will continue to serve as the Director of the Food Recovery Project and continue to represent us at national legal conferences. She will also teach courses for us via distance, this Fall teaching Urban Agriculture, and teaching Food Justice Law & Policy spring semester.

While we will greatly miss Nicole's regular presence on campus, her new position represents an exciting opportunity for her, and we applaud her success.  We extend our appreciation to her for all of her work in helping us to expand our Program and for her commitment to agricultural and food law excellence.  We wish her great success in her new position at Sterling and look forward to continuing to work with her in furtherance of our efforts here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

John Oliver Highlights Food Waste and our Food Recovery Guide

Screen shot from Last Week Tonight broadcast 
We were proud to have Nicole Civita, Director of our Food Recovery Project help to provide background information for the recent segment on food waste that appeared on John Oliver's Show, Last Week Tonight.  And, our project, Food Recovery: a Legal Guide, was featured.

Our work on food recovery and the reduction of food waste has been a critical part of our outreach since we received our first grant from the Women's Giving Center to create the Food Recovery Project and produce the Guide.  James Haley was the Food Recovery Project Research Fellow and wrote A Legal Guide to The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.  Affiliated Professor Nicole Civita took over as Director of the Food Recovery Project and produced the guide that Mr. Oliver referenced.  That Guide has now been downloaded nationwide, helping to convince many businesses to donate food rather than discard it.

And, a shout out to our good friend and colleague, Emily Broad Lieb who is interviewed in the Oliver segment, featuring her excellent work with NRDC on the Dating Game: How Confusing Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

LL.M. Alumni Advancing Homegrown By Heroes Program

Independence Day is a particularly good day to announce an exciting new farmer-veterans initiative spearheaded by two of our LL.M. alumni. We are very proud of their work and the new initiative.

On July 2, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, the Arkansas Agriculture Department and the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Farmers Veterans Coalition announced the Arkansas Farmer-Veteran Initiative, the Arkansas Grown - Homegrown by Heroes program.

Founded by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the Homegrown by Heroes program provides a certified labeling opportunity that gives consumers the opportunity to show their recognition and appreciation to veterans by purchasing the agricultural products they raise. The endeavor is now operated by Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC), and it is spreading state-by-state. Arkansas is the latest of more than 40 states that have signed on.

AR Agric. Sec. Wes Ward, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, FVC Counsel, Jason Foscolo
Our LL.M. Alumnus, Jason Foscolo of The Food Law Firm serves as General Counsel and Chief Operations Officer for the FVC and was on hand for the announcement.  Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward, another of our alumni, is credited with bringing the program to Arkansas, working with the assistance of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs and the support of Governor Hutchinson. We are extremely proud to have these two distinguished Marine Veterans representing our LL.M program.

The Arkansas Grown - Homegrown by Heroes program. is designed to give Arkansas veteran farmers an additional marketing tool, to encourage Veterans to pursue careers in agriculture, and to recruit more Veterans to Arkansas. Because a diverse agriculture is such an important aspect of Arkansas's economy - it has an impact of more than $20 billion annually - there are many opportunities for Veterans in Arkansas agriculture.

The program is open to any veteran and active duty, National Guard or Reserve member. Businesses or operations certified by the Homegrown by Heroes Arkansas Grown label must maintain veteran ownership of 50 percent or more. Businesses must be an approved member of the Arkansas Grown program before certification for use of the merged label.

Program requirements and benefits include:

  • Products certified under the merged label must meet food safety guidelines applicable to their products in the regions in which the products are being distributed and/or sold;
  • The Farmer Veteran Coalition, part of the Homegrown by Heroes program, will work with applicants to determine food safety requirements;
  • The coalition's food-safety experts will help plan and execute food safety measures;
  • Business planning, financial consultation and legal assistance will be provided during and after the certification process.

We encourage everyone to look for the Homegrown by Heroes whenever shopping!  Happy Fourth of July to all, and a special shout of appreciation to our veterans.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Alumni News: Adam Soliman

LL.M Alum Adam Soliman joins the Visiting Scholars Program at Harvard Law School 

We are pleased to report that LL.M. Alum Adam Soliman will be joining the Visiting Scholar Program at Harvard Law School during the 2015-2016 academic year. 

While there, Adam will facilitate a series of fisheries law seminars and conduct research on fisheries governance. Through his work at Harvard, Adam hopes to raise awareness on issues limiting access to justice for family and small-scale fishers.

The seminars will focus on fisheries governance, the right to protest in the high seas, fishers safety, transboundary conflicts, seafood safety, and the human rights approach to fisheries management and to spread information on Fisheries Law itself as an emerging academic discipline.

Adam is hosted by the East Asian Legal Studies Program at HLS under the direction of Professor William Alford.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Media Alert: State Agencies to Unveil Farmer-Veteran Initiative

MEDIA ALERT                                                                 

June 29, 2015

Primary Contact: Melissa Lambert
Arkansas Agriculture Department 

Additional Contact:Sarah Jones
Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs
Director of Public Affairs 

State Agencies to Unveil Farmer-Veteran Initiative
~Homegrown by Heroes to highlight service and Arkansas agriculture

WHO:   The Arkansas Agriculture Department and Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs

WHAT: will hold a joint press conference in the capitol rotunda.

WHEN: July 2, at 2:30 p.m.

WHY:   The purpose of the press conference is to announce a Farmer-Veteran initiative called the Arkansas Homegrown by Heroes program. The program is designed to give Veterans in the agricultural industry an additional marketing tool. The goal of the program is to encourage Veterans to pursue careers in agriculture, and to recruit more Veterans to Arkansas.

The program will help brand the value of Veterans to Arkansas’ workforce and economy, while highlighting Governor Asa Hutchinson’s commitment to both agriculture and Veterans.

Governor Hutchinson will provide remarks at the ceremony. Several Arkansas Veterans will be in attendance showcasing their agricultural products and businesses.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Alumni News: Alli Condra

Congratulations to LL.M. Alum Allison Condra, who recently accepted a position with the Portland office of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. Alli concentrates her practice on legal, regulatory, and policy issues facing the food, beverage, and restaurant industries. Alli recently completed a fellowship at Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, where she provided legal and policy counsel to nonprofits and government agencies seeking to increase access to healthy foods and assist producers in accessing local and regional markets. In that capacity, she advised on a wide range of issues, including the Food Safety Modernization Act, cottage food laws, agricultural labor laws, local procurement, urban agriculture, mobile food vending, and food policy advocacy. As a Candidate within the LL.M. Program, Alli was awarded the Marler Clark Graduate Assistantship, serving as a contributor to Congratulations Alli!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Introduction to Chapter 12 Agricultural Bankruptcy

It seems that Spring semester 2015 was particularly busy and went by too quickly. Doesn't it always? I am grateful for the wonderful attorneys we attract to the LL.M. Program, and it is bittersweet to send them on their way.  This year's class was a joy to teach, and I wish them all the successful careers that they surely deserve.
In the flurry of the semester, graduation, and writing projects, I neglected to blog about one particularly satisfying opportunity that arose in March and April. Better late than never . . . 
In mid-March, I was contacted by California attorney, George Hollister, a board member of the Sacramento Valley Bankruptcy Forum, a nonprofit organization in Sacramento, California.  Given the financial pressures facing California farmers, they wanted to include an introduction to Chapter 12 bankruptcy in their upcoming Continuing Legal Education seminar.  Mr. Hollister told me that he had assembled a small panel of speakers, but that they were searching for a suitable outline that summarized Chapter 12 effectively.  He had come across an old article of mine and wished to reprint it. I recalled the article, and I knew it was out of date.  But, what a perfect opportunity to update it.  I offered to do so.

I have always believed that too few attorneys knew the power within Chapter 12 bankruptcy for farmers - as a negotiation tool as well as a reorganization strategy.  With high crop prices and a strong national farm economy, Chapter 12 is sometimes forgotten as an important farm financial tool. But, farm finances are cyclical, and the pressures of climate change and drought are likely to raise bankruptcy's profile once again.  It's important for attorneys to be prepared. So, I viewed this request as an opportunity to update an article that could, once again, be important to a farmer and his or her attorney when confronting farm financial distress.

On April 24, the program was held in Judge Robert Bardwil’s courtroom in the Sacramento Federal Courthouse.  Mr. Hollister reported back to me that it was very well attended and presented, and all expressed appreciation for the materials provided.

I distributed the new article to my Agricultural Business Issues class when I presented on Agricultural Bankruptcy. And, the article has now been published in Arkansas Law Notes, our faculty online publication in service to the bar.

For anyone who is interested in this topic, here is a link to the Arkansas Law Notes publication - Please feel free to pass the word.

Friday, June 5, 2015

LL.M. Alumni: UCLA Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy

Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy
This week, the UCLA Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy released its Winter/Spring Program newsletter.  We are always pleased to see updates from the exciting work that the Resnick Program is doing, as the Executive Director is our alumnus, Michael Roberts.

This newsletter issue also featured  another alumna -  Lauren Bernadett.  Lauren is a UCLA Law graduate, and she is featured in the newsletter's Alumni Spotlight.  She credits Professor Roberts with introducing her to food law & policy and encouraging her to come to our Program to earn her LL.M. in Agricultural and Food law.  After graduating, Lauren returned to California for a fellowship with California Sea Grant, where she focused on California Environmental Quality Act issues, sea level rise policy, and aquaculture.

While a fellow, Lauren proposed, received funding for, and began to develop plans for a symposium on aquaculture law and regulation in California. She notes that "[i]t was an honor to return to UCLA . . . . to host the California Aquaculture Law Symposium, which I planned with the co-sponsorship of the Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy, the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, California Sea Grant, and the National Sea Grant Law Center.  The symposium was held on March 13, and was it was a great success.  It is also featured in the newsletter.

Lauren now works as an attorney with Somach Simmons & Dunn, a Sacramento-based law firm that does environmental and agricultural law work with a focus on water law.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Community Design Center's 'Food City Scenario' Wins Two National Awards

Community Design Center's 'Food City Scenario' Wins Two National Awards

This waste-to-energy facility is part of the award winning Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario
By U of A Community Design Center
This waste-to-energy facility is part of the award winning Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas Community Design Center received two new awards for a project that seeks to build food sustainability by promoting local urban agriculture.

The project, Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario, won a 2015 Great Places Award in the Planning Category from the Environmental Design Research Association.

It also received a 2015 Green Good Design Award from The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design.
The Community Design Center led an interdisciplinary team at the University of Arkansas for Food City Scenario, which speculates on what Fayetteville might look like if the city’s growth integrated local urban food production sustainable enough to create self-sufficiency. Fayetteville’s population of 75,000 is expected to double over the next 20 years. In addition, although the region is the most prosperous in the state, it also has one of the state’s highest child hunger rates.

Food City Scenario is an urban agricultural project that aims to weave agricultural urbanism back into the city environment, with the prospect of helping Fayetteville achieve greater food security and resiliency, said Steve Luoni, director of the Community Design Center and a Distinguished Professor.

Read the full article posted on the UA Newswire.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Professor Kelley in Ukraine

Associate Professor of Law Christoper Kelley returned to Ukraine in May to teach four sessions in legal writing to students at the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and to colleagues at at the Inyurpolis Law Firm (ILF) in Kharkiv.

Photos from an article posted on the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law website show Professor Kelley meeting with faculty, and being presented with a book by the Rector of the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University. Professor Kelley will be assisting in the organization of the first summer school for academic credit in the history of Ukrainian legal education. Yaroslav Mudryi was one of the three top law schools in the Soviet Union and remains a top law school in Ukraine today. Professor Kelley also taught two classes at the V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University.

Legal Writing Class, Inyurpolis Law Firm
Legal Writing Class, Yaroslav Mudryi

Thursday, May 28, 2015

LLM Alum & Farmer, Sean Brister, Featured on Ozarks at Large

Special note from Susan:

With the record-breaking rain in our area, I have been wondering how Sean Brister and his wife Stephanie are doing with their farm, Frog Bayou Farms in Crawford County, Arkansas. They raise cattle, soybeans and pumpkins on their farm and have a popular agri-tourism business.

Sean is one of our alumni, receiving both his J.D. and his LL.M. degree in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.  Stephanie has her Masters in Agricultural Economics from the University.  Sean and Stephanie combine their professional work with farming -  running their own farm is a dream they have shared for a very long time, and several years ago, they turned that dream into reality.  They have visited the LL.M. Program to talk to our students about their experience in purchasing and running a farm, offering the class a great opportunity to explore the legal and financial challenges presented.

I was delighted to turn on the radio yesterday and immediately recognize Sean's voice.  Ozarks at Large did a great job interviewing him - here's a link, Western Arkansas River Valley Farmer Faces Floods.  

"Sean Brister's cheerful resolve to cultivate pumpkins, soybeans, and cattle despite consecutive flood events this spring on his Crawford County farm has not withered. We tour his rain-soaked parcel and along the way, dig up his root philosophy on agrarian optimism."

We wish Sean, Stephanie, and their boys the best -  and hope the rain holds off for a while. I am sure we will need it later in the summer, but we certainly don't need any more right now. Thanks to KUAF for another great interview.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fall Classes Announced: Degree and Non-degree Opportunities

LL.M. Program in Agric. & Food Law

University of Arkansas School of Law

2015 Fall Courses 

We offer a full curriculum of specialized LL.M. courses each semester.  For Fall 2015, we will be offering our usual core courses, plus an exciting mix of new classes that address some of the most compelling new issues in agricultural and food law today.

The Fall semester begins with orientation on August 25. The first class will be a condensed course August 26-28.  The last day of classes for the semester is December 4, 2015.  The final exam period will be from December 7 – 18, 2015, although most LL.M. examinations are “take-home” projects that can be completed from any location.

We now accept full time and part time degree candidates, and some of our courses are open to professionals who just want to take one or two classes for non-degree credit, often obtaining CLE or other professional credit.  For more information visit our website or email

In addition to the classes listed below, we will offer a special session, Food & Agriculture Conversations that will involve guest speakers and a dialogue on current issues. These will be scheduled on Tuesdays, from 11:00 – 11:50 and will complement our other classes.

Food Law & Policy
Susan Schneider
2 credit full-semester course (required for LL.M. degree)
LAWW 7862
Wednesday, 9:00 – 10:40 a.m.
An introduction to the network of laws that govern our food system. An overview of regulation by both the Food & Drug Administration and the USDA is provided. Policy considerations are discussed in light of current issues.

Agriculture & the Environment 
Christopher Kelley
2 credit full-semester course (required for the LL.M. degree)
LAWW 7962
Thursday, 10:00 – 11:40 a.m.
Agriculture is increasingly criticized for its impact on the environment. This course examines the tensions between the desire to produce food and fiber efficiently and concern for sustainability and the protection of natural resources.

Food, Farming & Sustainability (Survey of Agricultural Law)
Susan Schneider
2 credit full-semester course
LAWW 7412
Friday, 9:00 – 10:40
This course provides a survey of the complex legal topics that make up the body of agricultural and food law focusing on current issues of significance.

The Right to Food
Uche Ewelukwa
1 credit half-semester course (Aug. 25 – Oct. 8)
LAWW 500(1)
Tuesday, Thursday 1:00 – 1:50 p.m.
This course will provide an overview of the historical development of the right to food, evaluate the rights, obligations and responsibilities of rights-holders and duty-bearers of the right to food, and will examine legal and non-legal mechanisms that are increasingly used to adjudicate the right to food.

Business, Human Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Food/Ag Sector
Uche Ewelukwa
1 credit half-semester course (Oct. 13 – Dec. 3)
LAWW 500(1)
Tuesday, Thursday 1:00 – 1:50 p.m.
The course explores the business-human rights nexus with a particular focus on the food and agricultural sector and on case studies from around the world. The course introduces students to the linkages between business and human rights from a variety of (legal, regulatory, and policy) perspectives.

Specialized Legal Research and Writing
Christopher Kelley
1 credit full-semester, pass/fail course
LAWW 7231
Tuesday, 10:00 – 10:50 p.m.
Legal writing skill development, including training in plain-English legal writing, electronic research training, and publication strategies. This course will assist students in planning to meet the LL.M. writing requirement.

Urban Agriculture Law & Policy
Nicole Civita
LAWW 7741
1 credit full semester distance course
Video-conferences TBA
Study of the legal issues raised by the rising interest in urban agricultural activities.  Topics of study include land use and zoning issues, farmers market issues, and legal issues associated with community-sponsored agriculture.

Courses Available Only to LL.M. Degree Candidates:

An Introduction to the Law of Food & Agriculture  
Neil Hamilton
1 credit condensed course
LAWW 7511
Tentatively scheduled for Aug. 26- 28, 2015
Introductory course that provides an overview of the legal and policy issues presented by the production of food and fiber, including a discussion of structural changes in agriculture, sustainability issues, and trends in consumer interest.

Agricultural Policy & the Federal Budget 
David Grahn
1 credit condensed course
LAWW 7321
Tentatively scheduled for Nov. 9 – 11, 2015
Study of the impact of the Office of Management and Budget and the cost scoring system on federal agricultural policy making in Washington, D.C.  Current farm policy issues are discussed within the context of budgetary constraints and pressures.

Special Topics: Research in Agricultural & Food Law Issues for the Arkansas Dept. of Agriculture
Wesley Ward and Cynthia Edwards
(1 credit – full semester)
New opportunity to work with our alumni serving as Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture on legal issues that arise. Limited to 1 or 2 students; selection by application.

Independent Research in Agricultural & Food Law
 (1-2 credits)
Independent research in agricultural and food law conducted under the supervision of a faculty member.

Advanced Legal Research & Writing (1 credit independent writing project; satisfies the legal writing requirement; grade based on final written product)
(1-2 credits)
Research in a specialized area of agricultural or food law and development of a paper that demonstrates rigorous legal analysis and quality legal writing.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hillary Renick Accepts Position as Natural Resources Advisor

Our congratulations to current LL.M. Candidate Hillary Renick, who recently accepted a position to serve as Natural Resource Advisor for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of the Regional Director, Division of Environmental, Cultural Resource Management and Safety in Sacramento, California. In her position, Hillary will be providing professional assistance to 102 Indian Reservations in the Pacific Region service area. Hillary will be conducting scoping meetings, public hearings, environmental reviews and consultations with various governmental, tribal, and private sector projects that may potentially impact lands on or near Reservations or Rancherias. She will be conducting environmental training and presentations, creating and monitoring mitigation measures required under NEPA, tribal ordinances and regulations. She will also be analyzing baseline resource data for sites contaminated with hazardous wastes/substances.  
In addition to her LL.M. studies this year, Hillary has worked as a graduate assistant with the Indigenous Food and Agricultural Initiative here at the University of Arkansas School of Law. 

Hillary serves as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for Sherwood Valley Rancheria.  Before attending the LL.M. Program, she worked for the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. She has also served as Yakama Nation Chief Judge; Environmental-Air Quality Specialist for Yakama Nation; Associate attorney for the LaPena Law Corporation; a Law Clerk for Oregon Governor Kulongoski's Office of General Counsel; and a Law Clerk for Anderson Law Group in Anchorage, Alaska.  Hillary has several years of public service employment with the Indian Health Service in Rockville, Maryland; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Institutes of Health; the Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and the International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; Office of Senator Maria Cantwell; Bureau of Land Management; and the American Red Cross.  She is also alumni of the Pre-Law Summer Institute (PLSI) at the University of New Mexico School of Law; the Morris K. Udall internship in the Office of Senator Maria Cantwell; the AISES Summer program at the State Department; the Washington Internship for Native Students (WINS) at American University; and a recipient of the Rodney T. Mathews Scholarship, Morongo Band of Mission Indians.
Hillary received her J.D. from the University of the Oregon School of Law, with certificates of completion in Environmental and Natural Resources, Ocean and Coastal Law, Pro Bono, and Public Service. While in law school she was a Native Environmental Sovereignty Fellow and served as Public Relations Outreach Officer for the Native American Law Student Association. She was a Research Assistant for Professor Mary Christina Wood, researching Nature’s Trust and Public Trust Doctrine as it relates to Climate Change.  She also completed graduate studies in Cultural Resource Management at Central Washington University, successfully defending her Master’s Thesis on Yakama Indian Treaty Fishing and Significance of Traditional Places and graduate studies in Public Health at George Washington University assisting, Dr. David Goldsmith with his research on Native American health problems associated with exposure to agricultural pesticides in agriculture and during repatriation.  Hillary received her B.A. in Anthropology from American University in Washington, D.C. Hillary is also alumna of Mendocino College, Phi Theta Kappa.
Hillary currently serves on the Board of Trustees for California Indian Legal Services and was previously a member of the Native American Advisory Group to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.  Hillary is a member of the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians and descendant of the Hopland Shanel, Noyo and Ft. McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone communities.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Visit From our Alumni: Wes Ward and Cynthia Edwards, Arkansas Secretary & Deputy Secretary of Agriculture

This week, we were delighted to host Arkansas's new Secretary of Agriculture, Wes Ward and Deputy Secretary Cynthia Edwards.  Both Wes and Cynthia are alumni of the LL.M. Program, and we are very proud of their service.

On Monday, we had an opportunity to talk about ways to involve the LL.M. Program with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. As Arkansas has such a diverse agricultural sector and also confronts challenging food security issues,  work with the Ag Department can be instructive even for students from other states.  With so many of our graduates serving in policy positions at a state and federal level,  on-the-ground involvement with the work of an administrative agency will be very helpful to our students.

On Tuesday, we accompanied Wes and Cynthia on a series of on-site visits with people on the front lines of the local food movement in Northwest Arkansas.

Teresa Mauer, Sec. Wes Ward, Dep'ty Sec. Cynthia
Edwards, and Leann Halsey at the Farmers' Market
We began the day at the Fayetteville Farmers' Market on the beautiful downtown square. There we met with Teresa Mauer, Vendor Coordinator & Leann Halsey, Business Coordinator.  We discussed the organizational structure of the market, how vendors become part of the market, and what events are planned for the coming season. This market is for locally produced foods and products only, and the array of items was impressive. We met all of the vendors and stocked our cooler with fresh strawberries, honey, and asparagus.  We also bought plants for our own gardens.

Dep't Sec. Cynthia Edwards, Sec. Wes Ward, Principal
Ashley McLarty, Morgan Stout, Ally Mracheck, Nicole Civita
Nicole Civita, Dept'y Sec. Cynthia Edwards, Susan
Schneider, Ally Mracheck, Morgan Stout, Sec. Wes Ward
in the Washington Elementary School Garden area.
Our next stop was Washington Elementary School, where Melissa Terry coordinated our visit with School Principal Ashley McLarty; Morgan Stout, Child Nutrition Director for the Fayetteville Public School System;  and, Ally Mrachek, Nutrition Supervisor and Farm-to-School Procurement Coordinator for the Fayetteville Public Schools. Melissa has been active in the NW Arkansas local food community for a number of years and is currently working on her Master's Degree in Public Administration/Non-Profit Studies at the University of Arkansas. She also serves as the Food Recovery Challenge Intern - EPA, Region 6.  And, she manages the school garden at Washington Elementary.  During our visit, we learned about the successes experienced in sourcing local foods, improving school nutrition, and introducing students to healthy foods. Local food procurement not only provides benefits to the school, it benefits the entire community, with funding kept within the community. We also discussed the challenges and the ways that the state government could assist schools.

After leaving Washington Elementary, we visited Feed Fayetteville, the NW Arkansas non-profit organization "founded to cultivate proactive, durable solutions to local hunger, childhood obesity and the relationships between both of these hotspots with a focus upon supporting local farmers and producers in our community." There, we met founder Denise Garner, who explained the origins of Feed Fayetteville and Feed Communities. And, we met Mike Rush, Executive Director, Jared Phillips, Program Manager, at Feed Communities. We had a great discussion about local and regional food initiatives and innovative agricultural production systems in Arkansas.

Jared Phillips, Sec. Wes Ward, Nicole Civita, Denise
Garner, Mike Rush, Dep'ty Sec. Cynthia Edwards

We then headed to lunch at The Farmer’s Table, a popular locally-sourced Fayetteville restaurant. We talked with the owners Adrienne & Rob Shaunfield about sourcing issues.  Peter Nierengarten, the Director of the Fayetteville Sustainability & Resilience Department joined us. Peter was able to provide information about his work for the City and urban agriculture initiatives, including urban farming ordinance passed last year. Of course, we had a most delicious lunch.

Rose Konold, Sec.Wes Ward, Dep'ty Sec. Cynthia
Edwards & some of the Boston Mtn Hogs at Mason Creek Farm
After lunch, we drove to Mason Creek Farm where we met Rose Konold and Glenn Woelk. Rose gave us a tour of the farm and discussed the new breed of hog developed from a cross of a Yorkshire sow and a Tamworth boar. Rose has established the Boston Mountain Hog Breeders Association. Mason Creek is an Animal Welfare Approved operation with direct sales throughout the area.

Our day concluded with an inspiring visit to Tricycle Farm & Crossroads Farmers Market. Founder of Tricycle, Don Bennett spoke about the concept behind this unique urban farm and the people that they bring together from throughout the community. Located in the heart of a busy urban area and close to the UA campus, "the mission of Tri Cycle Farms (TCF) is to grow community through soil as we steward food awareness, education and empowerment." Discussing community, food security, and the satisfaction that comes from producing food while drinking tea in the shade was a perfect way to end an amazing day.

Thanks to Secretary Wes Ward, Deputy Secretary Cynthia Edwards and all the wonderful hosts we had throughout the day.  Special thanks to our Professor Nicole Civita for coordinating.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Donald Judges Named Interim Associate Vice Provost for Distance Education

Donald P. Judges has been named the Interim Associate Vice Provost for Distance Education at the University of Arkansas, taking on the role of second-in-command at the Global Campus beginning May 1.

Don has served as Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Experiential Learning at the School of Law, and he was instrumental in the expansion of our LL.M. Program and the development of our Distance Education track.  That work was supported by Global Campus, forging an important partnership with the Law School. We look forward to continued collaborations with Global Campus as we continue to develop and expand our approach to distance education.  Don will spend half of his time working with the Global Campus leadership team and the other half teaching courses as the law school’s E.J. Ball Professor of Law. We greatly appreciate his continued support for our Program and wish him the very best in his new position. His commitment to excellence and to innovation in education will serve him well.  For more on Dean Judges appointment, read the full announcement posted on the Arkansas Newswire.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

LLM Walmart Externs Receive Food Safety Champion Awards

Each Spring semester, one or two of our LL.M. candidates are selected for an opportunity to extern at Walmart working with the food safety and labeling compliance team.  The opportunity to work inside the world's largest food retailer on safety and labeling issues is a remarkable way to learn food law in practice. This semester Trevor Findley and Christina Rice were the Walmart Externs from our Program.

Our Alumna, Amy White worked closely with Trevor and Christina, involving them in many real-world food labeling and safety issues.  Amy serves as the Food Safety and Health Manager for Labeling Compliance at Walmart, working with internal and external stakeholders to ensure regulatory compliance in food labeling. She works specifically with the labeling of private-label food items sold at Walmart and Sam's Club.  Her position requires complex regulatory analysis and close work with the companies that supply Walmart. An additional part of her position is monitoring legislation, litigation and policy shifts that affect food labeling.  Working with Amy is a fascinating learning experience for our LL.M. candidates.

Senior Associate General Counsel Don Wiseman also mentors our externs. Don is the company's principal subject matter legal expert for food safety and regulatory compliance, as well as consumer product safety and compliance. He has years of experience as a food law attorney. Before joining Walmart, he served as the senior vice president and general counsel of Swift Foods Co. and prior to that position, served as senior vice president and general counsel of Memphis-based Perkins Restaurants.

Christina and Trevor took time away from their final
exams to pose for this picture with their awards.
Through attendance at meetings and conferences, the externs are able to meet many of the professionals at Walmart who work on food safety and labeling issues. They were particularly fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Frank Yiannas, Vice President for Food Safety at Walmart. Dr. Yiannas is a recognized leader in food safety, a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, and author of the book, Food Safety Culture: Creating a Behavior-based Food Safety Management System. He oversees all food safety and public health functions at Walmart. Trevor and Christina had the opportunity to present their work to him and the food safety/labeling team.  Dr. Yiannas honored them with Food Safety Champion Awards for the work they did during their externship.  We are grateful for the opportunity that is provided to our externs, and we are very proud of the work they do. Congratulations, Trevor and Christina.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fulbright Scholar Program: Field of Law

The announcement below is courtesy of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program

The Fulbright Scholar Program offers teaching, research or combined teaching and research awards in over 125 countries for the 2016-2017 academic year. Opportunities are available for college and university faculty and administrators, as well as for professionals, artists, journalists, scientists, lawyers, independent scholars and many others.

This year, the Fulbright Scholar Program is offering over 80 awards in the field of Law. Exciting opportunities are available in many countries, including but not limited to:

Bulgaria: Law
Burma: All Disciplines (Law among preferred disciplines)
East Asia and the Pacific: Cross-Strait Studies
Ghana: Law
Jamaica: All Disciplines (Law among preferred disciplines)
Jordan: Public Policy and International Relations
Nepal: All Disciplines (Law among preferred disciplines)
Norway: International Courts and Tribunals
Sweden: Fulbright-Lund University Chair in Public International Law

For further awards in the field of Law, please visit our new Opportunities in Law webpage. There you will find award highlights and examples of successful projects in the discipline.

For eligibility factors, detailed application guidelines and review criteria, please follow this link. You may also wish to register for one of our webinars or join our online community, My Fulbright, a resource center for applicants interested in the program.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens and the current competition will close on August 3, 2015.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding any of the opportunities listed above or the Fulbright Scholar Program in general.

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. For more information, visit

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Global Anti-Corruption Officer and Vice-President of Wal-Mart to join Rule of Law Class

We are pleased to share that tomorrows Rule of Law Class will be joined by special guest Tom Gean, Global Anti-Corruption Officer and Vice-President of WalMart. This is an honor and a wonderful opportunity for us. Mr. Gean began his legal career as an associate at Alston & Bird LLP. He then became the Prosecuting Attorney for Sebastian County and, later, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. He joined Walmart in 2004 as its Chief Legal Compliance Officer (U.S.) and Vice-President. He became Walmart's Global Anti-Corruption Officer and Vice-President in 2012.

Mr. Gean received his law degree from Vanderbilt University. He earned his Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where he was captain of the U of A swimming team.

As we've previously reported, University of Arkansas School of Law Associate Professor Christopher Kelley has taught a Rule of Law course for the J.D. and LL.M. students at Arkansas for a number of years. While in the past, the course has always included live video-conferenced discussions with attorneys from other countries, this year the student body in the course is also transnational. Students from the well-regarded Taras Shevchenko Faculty of Law in Kyiv, Ukraine are participating in the class by live video conference.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Alumni Update: Mark Cohen Honored by Colorado State Bar Association

Our congratulations to LL.M. Alumnus Mark Cohen, who was recently honored by the Colorado State Bar Association for his six years of service on the Editorial Board of The Colorado Lawyer magazine from July 2009 through June 2015, including service as Board Chair from 2012-2013.

Since completing the program, Mark has returned to practice in Colorado where he focuses on agricultural law issues, mediation and arbitration, with a specialization in assisting businesses and other lawyers improve their documents by using plain English.

In addition to his service on the Colorado State Bar Association Editorial Board, Mark is a published author of both legal publications and mystery novels.

His recent legal publications include the Book Review-Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law, Joseph Kimble, The Colorado Lawyer, November 2012 and Book Review-Preparing Witnesses: A Practical Guide for Lawyers and Their Clients, (3rd Ed.) by Daniel I. Small, The Colorado Lawyer, December 2009.

His works of fiction include  Bluetick Revenge: A Pepper Keane Mystery, Mysterious Press (Div. of Time/Warner) and The Fractal Murders: A Pepper Keane Mystery, Mysterious Press (A Book Sense 76® Top Ten Mystery Selection (Fall 2002) and a finalist for the Colorado Book Award).

Saturday, April 18, 2015

LL.M. Alumnus Ben Thomas on the Daily Show??

Senator Pat Roberts from Kansas was featured on many news highlights and as a "Moment of Zen" on the Daily Show last week.  His cell phone went off while USDA Secretary Vilsack was testifying before the Senate Finance committee.  And, it turns out that his cell phone ring tone is the song "Let it Go" from the Disney animated film, Frozen.

What you may not have realized is that one of our alumni, Ben Thomas, was sitting directly behind Secretary Vilsack at the hearing.  While you can only see a bit of him on the brief Daily Show clip, we found a longer YouTube video that shows the moments before the cell phone goes off, and it shows Ben attentively listening to the Secretary's testimony. Clearly an alumni sighting is bigger news to us than Senator Roberts' ringtone! Watch the clip below -  and that's Ben on the right.

Ben serves at USDA as Chief of Staff for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Alumni Update: Sara Albert featured in article

We are pleased to share that LL.M. Alum Sara Albert was recently featured in this Increasing Access to Healthy Food in Dallas County, Texas article published by Sara serves as the Assistant Director of Food Policy at Children at Risk. Sarah joined CHILDREN AT RISK in 2014 to focus on local and state food policy related to food insecurity, childhood obesity, and access to healthy affordable food for North Texas children and their families. Sara is an avid community gardener and a champion of sustainable agricultural practices, urban agriculture, small farmers, and real food. Congratulations Sara.

Special Guest: Director of Congressional Relations in the Public Policy Department, Kristi Boswell

Immigration Reform in Agriculture

On Tuesday, special guest Kristi Boswell will visit the LL.M. class to provide a special session on Immigration Reform in Agriculture. Her visit is a part of the ongoing Agricultural Labor Law Course taught by LL.M. Adjunct Professor Amy Lowenthal. Kristi will join the class via video conference. 

Kristi Boswell serves as the Director of Congressional Relations in the Public Policy Department handling labor issues.

Prior to joining America Farm Bureau Federation, Kristi practiced corporate defense litigation, including labor and employment, at Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP in Omaha, Nebraska. Before attending law school, Kristi worked as an aide to former Nebraska State Senator Pamela Redfield in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

Kristi grew up on a farm in southeastern Nebraska where her family raised corn and soybeans. Kristi graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Nebraska in 2004 and received her Juris Doctor with Distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2009.

Friday, April 3, 2015

New Book Features Contributions from Seven LL.M. Alumni

Urban Agriculture: Policy, Law, Strategy, and Implementation

Congratulations are in order for Lauren Bernadett, Nicole Civita, Lauren Handel, Andy Frame, Sara Albert, Michael T. Roberts, Executive Director for the Resinck Program for Food Law & Policy, and LL.M. Program Director Susan Schneider for their contributions to the recently released book, Urban Agriculture: Policy, Law, Strategy, and Implementation

The book, described below, is available on the ABA shop site

A current, practical resource on all aspects of agricultural activities within non-rural settings, ranging from neighborhood gardens to commercial farming operations, this book addresses many of the land use, environmental, and regulatory legal issues that confront local governments, property owners, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and neighborhood groups when addressing urban gardening or farming. Chapter authors also describe and analyze the experiences of specific urban areas, providing perspectives on their different approaches.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Join Us This Summer As We Examine the Emerging Food Justice Movement

This May, our popular Food Justice Law & Policy course will be offered for the first time during the summer semester, and will be open to an expanded audience including Law & Graduate Students and Interested Professional across the country. The course will be tailored to fit the background of enrolled students, and will be offered in both a distance and face to face format. Interested individuals should contact the LL.M. Program at Regular tuition rates apply.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Journal of Food Law & Policy Symposium: The Past, Present & Future of Food Law

On March 20th, the Journal of Food Law & Policy celebrated its 10th anniversary with a symposium featuring some of the most recognized names in food law and policy. Our guests were instrumental in establishing the Journal 10 years ago, and we were honored to celebrate this special occasion with them.

Our speakers included:

Neil Hamilton, Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and Professor of Law at Drake Law School. Professor Hamilton also serves as the Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center.

Peter Barton Hutt, Senior Counsel, Covington & Burling LLP and Instructor of Food & Drug Law at Harvard Law School. Professor Hutt is one of the authors of the leading casebook, Food & Drug Law: Cases and Materials (4th ed., Foundation Press 2013).

Michael T. Roberts, Executive Director, Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy at UCLA Law School and former Research Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas school of Law; and

Susan Schneider, William H. Enfield Professor of Law and Director, LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law.

The conference was presented in the LL.M. Study at the University of Arkansas School of Law and was streamed to a live audience participating via distance. A recording of excerpts from the Symposium will be posted on the Journal of Food Law Policy's website and announced when on this blog when it becomes available.

The Journal of Food Law & Policy is the only student-edited legal journal in the country devoted to the study of food law and its impact on society. It’s first issue was published in July 2005, leading the legal academy in this emerging area of law. The LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law was proud to co-sponsor this conference, showcasing our state-of-the-art distance technology. Our thanks to all of our speakers and to our participants for this wonderful event, and congratulations to the Journal.

Special Class with LL.M. Alum Brandon Willis, Head of USDA Risk Management Agency

Brandon Willis, Administrator of the Risk Management Agency (RMA) at the USDA made a special visit to the LL.M. Program on Friday, March 20th as a part of his visit to the University of Arkansas campus.

Brandon addressed the class during a special session to discuss risk management strategies, current issues affecting federal crop insurance, and his goals in leading RMA. He also offered the LL.M. class some helpful advice on searching for a job in D.C. and selecting a successful career path. Brandon credited his LL.M. studies as getting him started in his agricultural law career.

After Brandon completed his coursework in the LL.M. Program, he went directly to Washington, D.C. to serve as the Agriculture Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Max Baucus. He drafted floor statements on agricultural issues and worked closely on legislation, including the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, with a particular focus on the livestock disaster programs. He also drafted legislation that supported the use of existing conservation programs to help fight the declining population of bees and other pollinators.

Brandon then served as Deputy Administrator of Farm Programs for USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA).  In that position, he oversaw all FSA programs under the Production Emergencies and Compliance Division (PECD), Conservation and Environmental Programs Division (CEPD), and Price Support Division (PSD).

Just prior to accepting the position at RMA, Brandon served as Senior Advisor to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Title I commodity programs, farm legislation matters and disaster assistance.

While in the LL.M. Program, Brandon served as a Graduate Assistant for the National Agricultural Law Center during the time that it was affiliated with the law school.  He earned his bachelor's degree in crop and soil science from Utah State University in Logan, Utah, and his law degree from the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo., and his LL.M. degree in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.  Brandon grew up on a third generation sheep ranch in northern Utah and managed his family's raspberry farm, Bursting Berries.

Brandon's visit to Northwest Arkansas was at the invitation of the National Agricultural Law Center, part of the Division of Agriculture. He delivered a public address on campus and met with leaders from the Arkansas agriculture community.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

LL.M. Alumnus Wes Ward Appointed Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture

We are proud to announce that LL.M. Alumnus Wesley Ward of Lake City, Arkansas has just become Arkansas' third Secretary of Agriculture.

Wes was recommended by Governor Asa Hutchinson on March 13 and on Friday, the Arkansas Agriculture Board voted to appoint him to the position.  He will be sworn into office soon. He will replace Butch Calhoun of Des Arc, who left the position in December. Arkansas's Agriculture Department was created in 2005 and has more than 530 employees. It includes the state Plant Board, the Forestry Commission, the Livestock and Poultry Commission, the Aquaculture Division and the land surveyor, as well as programs that benefit agriculture, such as dairy stabilization, farmers markets, and other promotion and marketing programs.

Wes serves as a captain in the Marine Corps Reserve. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps after high school and spent four years on active duty. He then joined the Marine Corps Reserve and attended Arkansas State University, where he received his B.S. degree in agricultural finance, magna cum laude. He received his law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law and then served as Battalion Judge Advocate in the U.S., Marine Corps. He was deployed to Afghanistan and to Jordan. He returned to the University of Arkansas to earn his LL.M. degree in Agricultural & Food Law, taking a number of courses in the Masters in Agricultural Economics Program at the Bumpers College of Agriculture. While in the LL.M. Program Wes served as an adjunct professor at the law school.

Wes grew up in Northeastern Arkansas and worked for U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., in 2013 as a field coordinator doing agricultural outreach. He has already spent time talking with the agriculture department's current staff, university contacts and agriculture industry groups.

Wes is quoted in Arkansas Online - "I promise you [that] you won't find find anyone that's going to work any harder for the state and for all our agricultural interests throughout the state."  He noted that his long term goals included seeing the department do more to help create agriculture-related jobs and to work with veterans interested in becoming farmers. We have already talked to Wes about finding ways that the LL.M. Program can support and assist him in his new role.

Congratulations, Wes.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Indigenous Food & Agricuture Initiative Hosts 2nd Annual Native Youth Leadership Summit

Last year, the Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative hosted its inaugural Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summit. We are pleased to report that the Initiative just announced that applications are now open for the 2nd year.

The Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative operates under the direction of Visiting Assistant Professor of Law Janie Hipp. An alumna of the LL.M. Program, Janie also teaches a course in Indigenous Food & Agriculture for the Program, alongside Initiative Staff Attorney, Erin Shirl.

To learn more, check out the recent post describing the event on the IFAI blog.